Traveller talk: July 2016

Pilgrims near the cross shaped church of Bet Giyorgis dedicated to St George.

Pilgrims in Lalibela, Ethiopia. © Philip Lee Harvey / Lonely Planet

Each month our fab Thorn Tree moderators bring a few tasty morsels of community chat to the fore. This month’s menu includes: self-catering in Cuba; a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa; footwear; reading lists; discovering India by bike; and finding India in London. Our TT-ers are a very eclectic bunch.

Self-catering in Cuba?

The unusual topic of cooking in Cuba cropped up this month, which ttjpdo glowingly describes as ‘one of the best threads’ on the subject. While most users on the thread agreed that part of the travel experience was to sample local food, there was also something to be said for immersing oneself in the cultural process of buying said produce – even though that appears to involve a lot of queuing.

Original poster yuvalg1987 admits that they ‘didn’t realise how much [their] grandmother’s stories about standing in line once a month for a piece of cheese [were] still relevant to life in Cuba.’ However, queuing aside, johnavery was adamant that it made ‘absolutely no sense to cook for yourself in Cuba’ and adds that ‘shopping is a major pain in the ass even for Cubans.’

Poster yuvalg1987 was reassured that you can easily buy rice and pasta in Cuba and was told that Cuban cuisine had improved even in the last two years. But if you did want to try and cook some of your own meals it might be nice to invite your hosts, and this may be the only practical way of proceeding in terms of space and sharing amenities.

If you do manage to convince your hosts to let you use their kitchen, candydita suggests: ‘ALWAYS clean up double what you would at home to show you can be trusted to leave a kitchen as clean as you found it. Dirt and crumbs = cockroaches. Take along a couple of dish clothes [sic], sponges and t-towels. Again, a good carrot to entice the horse to let you cook in their kitchen.’

Vicsvacek enigmatically advises: ‘Be patient and enjoy the thrill of the unexpected.’

Best foot forward

Ever ready to lend a hand, TT-ers shared their travel sandal preferences for a poster travelling to Southeast Asia. Birkenstocks, Keens, Chacos, Tevas, or less expensive non-branded and locally-bought varieties? Do they slip when wet? How about comfort? Do you have wide feet? However, while walking a mile in someone else’s shoes might yield some good advice, one size does not fit all and it was suggested the poster might be wise to break in whatever they end up choosing before travelling if at all possible.

Your summer/winter reading

Summer holiday reading or books to snuggle up with and help keep you away from the rain/snow/leaves/frolicking new-born lambs or cute ducklings (tick or add whichever is appropriate for your part of the world) was introduced by shikibu. A few examples include: Patrick Leigh Fermor’s ‘A Time of Gifts’; ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ by journo Kim Barker; ‘Lost Horizon’ by …read more


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